Your Guide to the Perfect Ka’anapali Vacation
Maui is arguably Hawaii’s most popular island and certainly it’s most iconic. It’s otherworldly scenery, predictably warm weather, and beautiful beaches have helped keep the postcard industry in business for decades. It is truly a paradise found. Within this holiday paradise, however, there are still decisions to make and some areas are more in-demand than others.
Ka’anapali is one such place.
If you are in the midst of planning a vacation to Maui and are looking at Ka’anapali, let us share some local advice!
Below is our local’s guide to the perfect Ka’anapali vacation:
Just where is Ka’anapali located?
Let’s start with the basics, Ka’anapali is located in West Maui. On the North West portion of Maui to be specific. It is north of Lahaina and south of Kapalua.
If you are heading to Ka’anapali, the community is serviced by Route 30 in either direction and is approximately a 35-40 minute drive from Maui International Aiport (OGG) in Kahului. The area is serviceable from the airport by public transport, but that can be far slower and can take upwards of 90 mins to arrive and often requiring multiple connections and transfers.
Who stays in Ka’anapali?
Ka’anapali is for the visitor who wants beachside beauty, convenience and choice. Built-in the 1960’s, Ka’anapali was designed to be a resort community. Right from the outset. It has five resorts and countless vacation condos and villa rentals. With these hotels and accommodation come other a vast choice of hospitality options.
As expected, Ka’anapali boasts incredible restaurants, as well as modest cafes, and boutique clothing, art, jewelry shops servicing all your needs. The community is also a hub and basecamp for many tours and activities. Yet with all this infrastructure it remains tasteful, thoughtful and well-managed.
Local’s Tip: A few places to eat in Ka-anapali that are popular with tourists and locals alike are the Hula Grill and Joey’s Kitchen.
What makes Ka’anapali special?
Photo by Andrew Bain on Unsplash
Ka’anapali Beach has been named one of Hawaii’s best beaches for over 20 years running. It has soft white sand and calm waters that stretch for three miles along the coast, making it perfect for swimming and beachcombing. If you like snorkeling or diving, head to Black Rock Point where you’ll find numerous coral reefs and fish species.
Add in 2 golf courses and an open-air mall, Whalers Village, and it is a complete destination, giving you many amenities to fully enjoy your vacation without having to leave.
How do I get around Ka’anapali?
Ka’anapali is easily accessible both because of demand and the simplicity of how to get there. There are multiple ways to arrive in Ka’anapali depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re flying into OGG (Kahului Airport), you’ll find rental cars and taxis waiting near the exit doors. Taxis are typically $15-$20 per person one-way and run regularly when flights arrive.
For those arriving by air, there are several options for getting to the resorts. Be sure to check (before arriving) if your hotel offers a free or low-cost shuttle option to/from the airport.
Another option is to rent a car and drive yourself to Ka’anapali. Since COVID-19, renting a vehicle has gone up in price – not as much as in other areas in the USA, but there is a notable increase nonetheless. You should now expect to budget approximately $60-$75 per day for a modest vehicle. As mentioned, you can also take public transportation. Buses depart regularly, with a few options, starting from 6 am and running until 9 pm (out of Whaler’s Village) and fixed route fares as of 2022 remain $4 each way, per person.
Things to do in Ka’anapali
There are countless ways to spend your free time in Ka’anapali whether you choose to relax on the beach, play tennis, golf, surf, hike, bike, boat, sail, swim, snorkel or dive. Whatever you decide, you’ll never run out of things to do. Here there are some recommended examples of things to do in Ka’anapali:
Whether you prefer surfing, body boarding, paddle boarding, scuba diving, fishing, sailing, or kayaking, you’re sure to find something fun to try. Surfers love the waves at nearby Honolua Bay, while windsurfers are drawn to the area around Keanae. Kayakers and stand-up paddlers are drawn to the Waihee River. Scuba divers go to Molokini Crater. Fishing enthusiasts enjoy trolling off Honoapiilani Highway. For those looking for less active water sports, there are parasailing, jet skiing, banana boating, horseback riding, ATV tours, and hiking and biking trails.
Snorkel at Black Rock
Ka’eo is one of Hawaii’s best snorkeling spots. Located just off the coast of West Maui, you can see coral reefs, tropical fish, turtles, octopuses, eels, sea stars, and even sharks. This area is home to many marine species including the Hawaiian monk seal, green sea turtle, humpback whale and blue whales.
But there are places like Black Rock that stand out among the rest. It’s a natural formation that juts up about 30 feet above the water. And while the cliffs aren’t very high, the views are spectacular.
Black Rock is located on the north shore of Molokai and is part of Ka’anapali Beach. It’s easy to access via the Honolua Trail, which runs along the western side of the island. From here, you’ll want to head toward the west end of the trail and follow the signs to the black rock.
The hike isn’t difficult, but if you’re looking for something easier, check out our video guide to snorkeling in Hawaii.
The warm, sheltered ocean channel of Maui and Lana’i is known to be the preferred calving spot for humpback whale-watching. These large animals are usually seen from November to May, though you might catch sight of them earlier or later depending on weather conditions. They feed primarily during daylight hours, though some feeding activity takes place at night.
Pods of spinner dolphins often join in on the action. Black Rock makes for an ideal vantage point. If you want to view whales up close, consider taking a whale-watch sail standard or, if you prefer something a little different, try out a whale-watching kayak trip.
Stroll along the Ka’anapali Beach Walk.
The best way to explore Ka’anapali Beach is to follow the meandering Beach Walk. Connecting all resort properties, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It takes you past the beachfront hotels and down into the heart of downtown West Maui. Along the way, kids will enjoy seeing the many Hawaiian references like “Ka’anapali,” “Kaana” meaning “to see” and “poli” meaning “the people.” And adults will love the ambiance created by the tiki torches lining the walkway.
Take Surfing Lessons in Ka’anapali
Get the most out of your vacation by learning how to surf in West Maui. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced surfer.
The team at Mauilocalsguide.com are local experts who can help you with everything you need to know about Maui. They’re more than happy to help you plan your trip, make reservations for you, and arrange everything for your visit.
World-class Dining along the Ka’anapali Shoreline
Ka’anapali Beach is home to some of the most beautiful ocean views in the state of Hawaii. Whether you want to dine al fresco overlooking the Pacific Ocean or indoors under the stars, there is something special about every meal at the resorts here. From the casual fare at the Whaler’s Village Marketplace to fine dining in the resorts themselves, you’ll find a variety of options to suit your taste.
Try one of the local favorites such as Kula Cafe, Hale Hapa Fish Market, Roy’s Ka’anapali, or Le Meridien Resort. Or, grab lunch at one of our many beachside cafes.
Play Golf in Ka’anapali
The Hawaiian Islands are a golfer’s paradise. With more than 100 golf courses on the islands, there is no shortage of places to play. If you want to enjoy some of the best golf in the world, then look for a course that offers something special.
Ka’anapali Golf Courses offers two of the best golf courses in Ka’anapali: The Royal Ka’anapali and the Ka’anapali Kai Course where you can enjoy stunning views for a fun round on vacation.
If you like shopping, you won’t be disappointed. There are dozens of stores lining both sides of Ka’anapali Drive, including clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, art galleries, gift shops, and souvenir stands.
Wondering when the best time to visit Maui is?
Overall, the summertime is a great time to visit Maui and explore its natural treasures. Not only does it stay mild during this season, but you can enjoy plenty of sunshine while out exploring the outdoors!
Visit our complete Maui guide for more details about the weather in Maui and more details to plan a trip to this paradise on earth!
Ready to book your accommodation in Ka’anapali?
There are many resorts in Ka’anapali located within walking distance from each other such as Aston at The Whaler on Ka’anapali Beach a condominium resort located along the pristine Ka’anapali Beach shoreline. Also, located in Ka’anapali Beach, you will find the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, a contemporary beachfront resort 4-minute walk from both the Ka’anapali Golf Course Resort South and the Whalers Villa mall.
Staying in a vacation rental
If you are looking for an affordable getaway that will give you the best experience, we invite you to check out our vacation rentals in West Maui. Whether you are looking for condos for rent, beachfront rentals, or even luxury villas, we offer some of the best vacation rentals in Maui.
Also, keep in mind that when you book a vacation rental with us, not only will we offer some of the best rates possible, but we will also provide local assistance before and during your stay!